Final 4-Day Colorado Fall Foliage Street Journey Itinerary – Bearfoot Idea

We’ve all seen these dreamy photographs of Colorado’s golden aspens spreading throughout mountains and valleys as fall descends on the Rockies. They’re a sight to behold, lighting up the mountainsides like hearth.

As Colorado residents (and lovers of autumn), we’ve spent numerous time roaming round our state trying to find the most effective locations to view gorgeous Colorado fall foliage.

On this put up, we’ve put collectively a 4-day Colorado fall highway journey itinerary so it’s also possible to expertise the autumn colours in Colorado first-hand. From probably the most scenic mountain go drives to our favourite fall hikes, there’s one thing for each outside adventurer.

Vital Reminder: Because it goes in all the locations we share, please follow good path etiquette and bear in mind to Depart No Hint. This implies packing out your whole rubbish (together with bathroom paper), being respectful to others, and following the established guidelines.

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Fall in Colorado: An Overview

Rising up in Denver, it at all times appeared like the nice and cozy, lazy days of summer time immediately became darkish, snowy dredge of winter. There have been solely a handful of days with cool temps and altering leaves.

If Fall did make an look for greater than a few days, although, it was within the mountains.

Landscape photo of tall snow-dusted Rockies peaks with large grove of golden aspen trees a its base in Colorado
Lime Park | Picture credit score: Ben Thomas

Though it‘s normally temporary, Fall within the Colorado mountains is the best.

Temperatures have cooled down and the climate is steady sufficient to spend all day exterior with out getting caught in afternoon thunderstorms (you’ll want to pack your fall mountain climbing layers although!).

Fall can also be a shoulder season for tourism, so the crowds are largely gone and there are nice offers to be discovered. However most of all, the leaves, they’re a-changing!

In Colorado, meaning the aspens flip GOLD. Seeing the aspen colours at their peak in late September/early October is a lifetime must-do.

I’ve a private affinity for highway journeys, so under I’ve outlined the final Colorado fall highway journey. It covers the whole state, with every leg of the journey hitting the largest and greatest aspen groves.

Relying in your fall highway journey time constraints, you are able to do the entire itinerary as one journey or tackle any of the person legs for a day or weekend escape from Denver whereas the leaves are altering. You’ll not be disillusioned! 

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4-Day Colorado Fall Street Journey Itinerary

Every leg of this fall Colorado fall foliage itinerary features a bonus hike as an possibility so you may take a look at the fantastic thing about the autumn colours up shut and stretch your legs a bit.

Detailed driving instructions may be discovered by clicking on MAP beneath every driving leg, sending you to a Google map for that particular leg.

The driving is all on highways, so any passenger automotive ought to be capable of deal with it, no four-wheel-drive obligatory.

So pack your highway journey necessities, learn these 25 fall tenting suggestions, and let’s get rolling!

Map of Colorado fall road trip map screenshot

Leg 1: Denver to Vail 

  • Route: Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park and Steamboat Springs – MAP
  • Distance: 319 miles
  • Drive time: 7.5 hours

We begin off this fall highway journey with a bang.

Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado framed by golden aspen trees
  • Leaving Denver, enter the mountains via Golden Gate Canyon State Park. This little state park exterior of Golden is a good fast escape into the foothills and presents extra aspen viewing than close by Clear Creek Canyon.
  • Ultimately, you’ll hit the Peak to Peak freeway, heading north via Nederland to Estes Park and the gateway to Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park. Enter the park and head up Path Ridge Street, the very best steady paved highway within the Decrease 48.
  • Path Ridge takes you up and over the Continental Divide, rising up via pine and aspen forests to above the tree line, supplying you with uninterrupted views of the altering timber all the best way over Colorado’s most well-known nationwide park.
  • As soon as out of the park, you’ll head west over Rabbit Ears Go to Steamboat Springs, taking the scenic route down again south behind the Gore Vary. When you hit I-70, head east to Vail and benefit from the Colorado alpine city in all its golden splendor.
Golden aspen trees on the side of highway in Colorado
Golden aspen timber off of I-70 close to Vail, Colorado | Picture credit score: Ben Thomas

Bonus Hike: Bierstadt Lake in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park

Profit from your park entrance price in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park by stretching your legs on this 2.4-mile roundtrip hike.

Views stretch again into Glacier Gorge towards the Continental Divide and Longs Peak, with aspens altering under. Get extra path information right here

For different hikes within the Park, take a look at our information on the Greatest Day Hikes in Rocky Mountain Nationwide Park.

Leg 2: Vail to Crested Butte

  • Route: Aspen and Carbondale – MAP
  • Distance: 207 miles
  • Drive time: 6 hours

This leg of the highway journey is the spotlight. Don’t get me fallacious, in all places on this itinerary is spectacular, however the mixture of Vail, Independence, McClure, and Kebler Passes is likely to be magnificence overload.

Every go alone might be a weekend (or week-long) journey. However right here they mix to kind leg two of our final Colorado fall colours highway journey.

The driving distance on this leg is a bit shorter, however you’ll need each second to cease for photographs and soak within the magnificence.

Capitol Ditch Trail // Experience the best fall colors and foliage in Colorado with this detailed road trip itinerary
Capitol Ditch | Picture credit score: Ben Thomas
  • Head east on I-70 over Vail Go and benefit from the big aspen stands on Copper Mountain. Exit the freeway at Copper and drive over Fremont Go to Leadville and its mega-views of Mount Large and the very best peak of Colorado, Mount Elbert.
  • Leadville was as soon as thought of for the capital of Colorado. Its historic downtown and unbelievable views warrant a cease for lunch or a fast stroll round city. Whenever you go away, take CO-24 south to Twin Lakes, then flip west onto CO-82.
  • Head up and over Independence Go (the place you’ll most probably see the aspens go into overdrive) after which descend down into the aptly-named city of Aspen. If you wish to cease and hand around in Aspen for a bit, ensure to take a look at our Native’s Information to Aspen for our favourite hikes, eating places, and watering holes. 
  • As soon as you may tear your self away from Aspen, drive on down the Roaring Fork Valley to Carbondale. Then, head south on CO-133 up McClure Go and the dramatic Ragged Mountains.
  • Stretch your legs on the high of McClure Go within the aspen grove on the northwest facet of the highway. This place is magical; soak it in. As soon as you are feeling prepared, head down to only previous Paonia Reservoir and switch left onto CO-12.
  • Saving the largest (and a few would say greatest) for final is Kebler Go, dwelling of the most important aspen grove within the state. End your day by rolling into Crested Butte and have a good time with a pizza on the Secret Stash Pizza (and have an additional slice for me).
Aspen fall foliage on Kebler Pass in Colorado
Kebler Go | Picture credit score: Ben Thomas

Bonus Hike: Capitol Lake by way of the Capitol Ditch Path

Lose a number of the leaf-peeping crowds that flock to Maroon Lake close to Aspen and turn out to be surrounded by aspen timber on this stunning 12-mile out and again.

Heads up, the highway to this trailhead requires excessive clearance (~7 inches) 4WD for the final mileGet extra path information right here

Leg 3: Crested Butte to Pagosa Springs

  • Route: Silverton and Durango – MAP
  • Distance: 259 miles
  • Drive time: 5.5 hours

Leg 3 is one other shorter day drive time-wise, however for good cause. You’re heading right down to the western slope after which past into the San Juans, Colorado’s most dramatic mountain vary which are sometimes amplified by fall aspen leaf magnificence.

Sneffels Range in Colorado surrounded by golden aspen trees
Sneffels Vary (Picture: Ben Thomas)
  • Depart Crested Butte via Gunnison, and head west in the direction of Montrose. Benefit from the views previous Curecanti Reservoir and you probably have time for a detour, take a look at Black Canyon of the Gunnison Nationwide Park.
  • In Montrose, flip south onto US-550, having fun with the views of the Sneffels Vary because it grows from a distant tease to an impressive mountain crown! At Ridgway, keep on US-550 via Ouray up and over the Million Greenback Freeway of Crimson Mountain Go.
  • BE CAREFUL driving this part!  The mountains listed below are steep and dramatic and generally the highway is steep and dramatic as effectively. This can be a paved freeway, however there are lengthy, steep drops simply off the highway, so concentrate.
  • When you get to the highest of Crimson Mountain Go, the highway calms down and the views hold ramping up as you drive into Silverton. Silverton is a unusual former mining city revived by the intense sports activities of ultra-trail-marathons and backcountry snowboarding. It’s an excellent place to stretch your legs earlier than the following part of this drive.
  • Past Silverton, you’ll head up and over Molas Go to Durango, with unbelievable views in the direction of the Needle Mountains into the Weminuche Wilderness, the most important wilderness space in Colorado. When you’ve reached Durango, head east on US-160 to Pagosa Springs, persevering with to frame the Weminuche Wilderness.

Bonus Hike: The Colorado Path from Molas Go to the Animas River

This hike is a little bit backward, which makes it form of enjoyable. Begin on the high of Molas Go and hike down on the Colorado Path to the Animas River and the practice tracks of the Durango-Silverton Slim Gauge railway.

On the best way, you’ll go into the tree line (and thru aspens after all) with close-up views of the spectacular Vestal Peak.

It’s 4 miles right down to the river, dropping 3,000 toes within the course of. Keep in mind, you’ll must climb all the best way again up in the event you make all of it the best way right down to the river!

Landscape photo of Vestal Peak and the Animas River in Colorado
Vestal Peak and the Animas River | Picture credit score: Ben Thomas

Bonus Driving Leg: Dallas Divide from Ridgway in the direction of Telluride, CO-62

I wished this highway journey to be a real loop with no backtracking. That meant slicing off a few spots that didn’t fairly match.

However Dallas Divide and Telluride are SO BEAUTIFUL within the fall, I’ve to at the very least point out them.

When you have the time, the views on this space are effectively well worth the effort to show round and head again the best way you got here.

Take a look at a number of the greatest hikes in Telluride when you’re there.

Leg 4: Pagosa Springs to Denver

  • Route: Salida, Fairplay, and Georgetown – MAP
  • Distance: 389 miles
  • Drive time: 8 hours
Fall aspen colors on mountainside on Monarch Pass in Colorado
  • From Pagosa Springs, head east previous South Fork and into the San Luis Valley, the Rift Valley of North America. When you may take US-285 all the best way to Salida via the valley, I like to recommend taking the extra scenic again means by way of routes 114 and 50.
  • Then it’s east, up and over Monarch Go to benefit from the view of two towering fourteeners, Tabeguache and Shavano, on the best way right down to Salida.
  • Head north all over the South Park Valley, checking off Fairplay and Jefferson and up Kenosha Go. Kenosha Go throughout peak colour is likely one of the greatest, a becoming strategy to head again towards Denver.
  • However we’re not completed but! Whenever you attain Grant, head up and over Guanella Go into Georgetown (perhaps hike Mount Bierstadt in the event you really feel like tackling a fourteener).
  • After Georgetown, briefly hop on I-70 till Idaho Springs. There you’ll exit for Squaw Mountain Go, the place you’ll get your final repair of aspen tree glory earlier than assembly up with the Interstate as soon as once more and eventually heading again into Denver.

Bonus Hike: San Luis Peak between Saguache and Gunnison

If the climate is favorable, San Luis Peak is probably the most distant fourteener in Colorado.

It’s an superior 13-mile, class 1 path that rewards hikers with some golden aspens on the best way to the highest. Get extra path information right here

Whew, there you have got it! Twenty-seven hours of a number of the prettiest fall colours in Colorado driving on the earth, actually.

Fall is probably the most fantastic time of the yr in Colorado for a highway journey; now get on the market and luxuriate in!

When you’re searching for extra Colorado highway journey sources, take a look at these weblog posts:

Are you planning a Colorado fall highway journey? The place is your favourite place to see Colorado fall foliage? Depart a remark under!

Experience vibrant Colorado fall colors with this road trip itinerary that takes you through some of the best aspen groves in the state.


Journalist specialized in online marketing as Social Media Manager. I help professionals and companies to become more Internet and online reputation, which allows to give life to the Social Media Strategies defined for the Company, and thus immortalize brands, products and services. I have participated as an exhibitor in various forums nationally and internationally, I am the author of several articles in digital magazines and Blogs.

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